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Kenyan bishops back fresh investigation of missionary's death

Bishops in Kenya here have expressed support for a re-investigation into the death of Fr John Anthony Kaiser, a US priest found dead in 2000 in mysterious circumstances.

At a press conference last week, Church officials reiterated their dissatisfaction with the outcome of investigations carried out by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Kenya's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which concluded that Fr Kaiser had committed suicide.

In April 2001, priests jointly rejected an FBI report concluding that suicide was the cause of death. Sensing foul play, they cited the "unprofessional and selective scene-of-crime evidence and apparent malpractice surrounding the post-mortem examination".

The Catholic consequently called upon the Kenyan Government to institute a public inquest into the death of Fr Kaiser, "when all witnesses can be examined and cross-examined".

But their request was not accepted until two years later, and under a new government, following sustained public pressure.

On April 2 this year, Attorney General Amos Wako directed that "the investigation file be placed before the Chief Magistrate with a view of holding a public inquest".

"We welcome the assurance by the Magistrate that there will be a mention on August 11, with a view to setting the date when the inquest commences," said the Catholic Bishops in their latest statement.

The death of Fr Kaiser was considered by observers to have been politically instigated. The outspoken priest of the Mill Hill Order had been critical of the previous government.

African Church Information Service/

Kenya nuncio skeptical of FBI conclusion on missionary death (28/8/02)
Outspoken US priest murdered (28/8/00)
Suspicions rise over US priest's murder (29/8/00)
Bishops seek justice for slain missionary (26/9/00)
Kenyan bishops suspect FBI investigation a cover-up (15/11/00)
Kenyan bishops repeat: missionary did not commit suicide (24/8/01)

9 Jul 2003